Before reading this book, I had no idea there was such a thing as Expressive Arts Therapy. My wife is a dancer, and picked up this book after hearing Rea on CBC talking about her experiences in the ballet world. I started flipping through it and was drawn into Rea’s life story. The book starts with a series of vignettes covering her experiences in ballet school and dancing professionally. This was a fascinating glimpse into a world that I was never aware of. Rea tells her story in a conversational way, with a lot of self-deprecating humour.
Rea then goes into what Expressive Arts Therapy is and how it works. I found this really interesting and it made sense to me how approaching your problems through creative expression could help to get you out of your negative thinking. Rea explains the rationale behind her points clearly enough for me to understand, and I knew nothing about psychotherapy before I read this book.
Rea talks in some detail about a client with an eating disorder. I was immediately drawn to this client. Rea portrays him not as some basket case who needs professional help, but as a real person struggling with life. I can identify. For years I suffered from social anxiety disorder. I read a lot of books on cognitive behavior therapy that helped me change my thinking, but it was a slow process. I wonder now if I had known about Expressive Arts Therapy whether using things like writing or music or painting would’ve helped pull me out of my old behavior patterns.
It’s a bit of a weird book in that it’s part autobiography and part textbook. But I think it works. Rea’s life stories about her dance career and about her father are interesting and funny and sad, and she ties them into the theme of Expressive Arts Therapy. I was touched by this book, and I think it’s motivating me to be more creative in my life! I think it can help others and that is why I have written this review.